Today is a day for confessions. While I place a very high premium on honesty, I have given myself leave to be “economical with the truth” in one particular area: when an online service starts asking for my personal data, I start obscuring the facts. For example, why does any social media platform need to ask me for my birth date AND a separate security question/answer? Therefore, I generally don’t provide my actual birth date. It’s not because of any foolishness about trying to hide my age. It’s because this age of identify theft and privacy incursions has me concerned about where I can legitimately draw the lines between my private data and the world. So, my low-level war is about muddying the waters for marketers and others who lurk online and attempt to profile me for their financial gain or for other nefarious purposes.
To be honest, I’ve been a privacy hawk for years. Shortly after we first married, I mortified my husband by refusing to provide my social security number to a shop checkout clerk who (improperly) demanded it to verify a credit card purchase. I made a fuss and tied up a rather long line of people waiting to make their purchases. And, I’ve kept making a fuss whenever someone other than the tax authorities has asked for this number.
I’ve since learned that I’m not the only one engaged in a guerrilla war. Chris Brogan wrote today about why he gives April 1 as his birthday when, in fact, his actual birthday is a few days later. Here’s how he explains it:
I don’t do this as an April Fools thing. I do it because I’ve chosen to tell all the databases of the Internet one fact that’s different from the real world. I do this to see where my data ends up.
Do you take any measures (no matter how quixotic) to protect your privacy online? If so, do you have any tips you could pass on? If not, why not?
[Photo Credit: Keso]